artist: Scott Kolins
Keith Giffen is a talent DC has been wise to keep around for decades. He's versatile enough to serve as an artist (he provided the breakdowns for the entirety of 52, the fifth lead after the famous quartet of writers Johns, Morrison, Rucka, and Waid) as well as writer (co-scripting the "Bwa-ha-ha" League with J.M. DeMatteis), emphasizing an irreverent perspective (he created both Lobo and Ambush Bug).
He's the writer of Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1 mostly because it's the launching pad for his latest series, Threshold. The lead star of Threshold is rogue Green Lantern Jediah Caul. Now, normally I will subscribe without deviation to the belief that a good name is the first part of a good character. Jediah Caul is not a good name. It's not even a decent one. But the character still works. First off, a rogue Green Lantern pretty much sells itself. I happen to be a big fan of the Green Lantern franchise, so I'm happy that there's so much of it floating around these days, and now part of it floating around in a series that isn't really connected to it. ("Jediah Caul" is pretty much the opposite of the name you'd expect, so maybe I'll just refer to him as Threshold.)
Being an issue of Green Lantern: New Guardians, Giffen does in fact handle the stars of that series, and in that regard it's an excellent way to demonstrate the goodies already in the franchise. Arkillo of the Sinestro Corps, Carol Ferris of the Star Sapphires, Saint Walker of the Blue Lanterns, and Kyle Rayner of the Green Lantern Corps are our main characters, all mingled together as they have been in New Guardians, interacting with each other as their different approaches contrast. Carol Ferris, the sometimes girlfriend of Hal Jordan, is the other focus besides Threshold, is assigned by her handlers to a distant region of space for somesuch mission (it doesn't ultimately matter). She ends up trapped in a reality show, a version of which has been featured in Death Race, The Condemned, and even Charmed. Only Threshold can break her free, although in the process he becomes the latest contestant, and that will be the subject of his first story line in the spin-off.
Giffen is an ideal writer for some of the more alien possibilities of a Green Lantern story. Often our hosts also dictate the approach, and in a Green Lantern story that hosts are invariably one of the many human Green Lanterns (Kyle is the resident human in New Guardians, obviously, although he has support in Carol, while Guy Gardner and John Stewart headline Green Lantern Corps, and Hal and Simon Baz are featured in the main title, and even Red Lanterns introduced a human recruit). It's often something of a lost opportunity, because this is a franchise that ought to be free to explore the possibilities of space. In this particular story, that's not the case, and it's nice to read, because Giffen is obviously having fun.
Sometimes, of course, when a comic book removes the human element, or transports the story to an unfamiliar time period (even the Legion of Super-Heroes can be guilty of this), it can become an exercise in impenetrable storytelling. Yet Giffen doesn't let that happen, either. He doesn't and won't write the New Guardians stars on a regular basis, yet he seems perfectly at home with them. His introduction of Threshold is equally effortless. If rebellious characters aren't exactly a novelty, Threshold stands out in his sheer indifference either to his status as a Green Lantern or anything else. He's a loose-cannon through and through. He has the potential to be very, very fun to read.